Aditi Karandikar’s team at Panasas uses technology from the Terminus Cloud for ABM to do account-based marketing at scale.
- She is on the cutting edge of B2B marketing process and technology, including account-based and lead-based marketing.
- Her wit is as sharp as her marketing skills.
- She doesn’t mess around with the numbers.
Aditi has over a decade of experience in demand generation and operations at B2B technology companies. She is a marketing advisor to two startups, was a finalist for a #FlipMyFunnel ABMie award, and is a mom to two kids. It goes without saying that she keeps herself busy.
I was lucky enough to talk with Aditi and learn a few of her account-based marketing secrets and the software she uses to power Panasas’ demand gen engine.
Panasas specializes in scale-out NAS storage, which is high-performance digital storage. It’s used by clients like Boeing as they engineer new airplanes as well as media and entertainment clients. For example, the movie Mad Max was edited on Panasas storage. Lots of government, life science, and big data clients also rely on Panasas for their storage needs.
I had the opportunity to interview Aditi and speak with her at length about how her team at Panasas uses Terminus and other ABM Cloud tools such as 6sense. We even shot a short video in which Aditi gives an overview of Panasas’ ABM efforts. Watch the video and then read my interview with Aditi to learn more about the Panasas team’s account-based marketing tech stack and their ABM strategy.
And now, on to the interview with ABM Superhero Aditi Karandikar:
How did Panasas get started with ABM?
There had been a disconnect between marketing and sales in the past at Panasas — the typical issues of leads being passed to sales that were deemed to not be good. Marketing was taking a 100% lead-based approach, which presented a lot of challenges for our sales team.
We looked to ABM to help solve our lead-based challenges and to align the sales and marketing teams. Our CMO, Jim Donovan, took over management of both marketing and sales. He is very bought into ABM and advocated for it at the board level. They require strong ROI on every marketing dollar, so we couldn’t afford to take a spray and approach to marketing. Having support from executive leadership is critical to our success.
From a process standpoint, all our sales executives are free to pursue “whales” in their territories — the wish list of ten to 15 accounts they wanted to closing. Marketing and the inside sales team pursue our target accounts. These are the accounts that fit our ideal customer profile (ICP).
Terminus was our first pure-play ABM platform. It allows us to ensure each dollar spent on display ads are shown to the decision-makers and influencers at only the right accounts — even if we don’t have their contact data.
In the beginning, we had interns identifying companies in our ICP, and then we’d use Terminus to engage those accounts. After Terminus drove engagement with our target accounts, our inside sales team would follow up before handing over the best prospects to our sales executives.
This process allowed marketing and sales to be on the same page because we agreed on our accounts before going to market. It cut waste and aligned the teams.
But, we wanted to be even more targeted.
In my opinion, a comprehensive ABM strategy has three criteria:
- Is an account a good fit for our business? Does it fit our ICP?
- Are good-fit accounts ready to buy?
- Can I reach all of the decision-makers and influencers on the buying committee at ready-to-buy, good-fit accounts?
We figured out #1 and #3 with Terminus, but we needed predictive analytics to figure out who was “in-market.” We went with 6sense because it not only tells us which accounts are in the buying process, but also gives insight into the particular stage of the buying process the account is in. It also helps us find other best-fit accounts we hadn’t already identified.
So, 6sense and Terminus made up the core elements of our martech stack, and combined with Marketo, Salesforce, LinkedIn, and InsideSales.com, we had a comprehensive ABM tech stack.
Tell us more about how Terminus and 6sense work together to drive your ABM strategy.
They work together in a really powerful way that is easy to implement.
As I mentioned, the cool thing about 6sense is that it is not just predictive analytics with intent layered in; it also tells us the stage of the journey each buyer is in — whether that’s the awareness, consideration, decision, or purchase phase.
This is profoundly powerful, especially when we bring in Terminus. It helps us target these accounts with the content most relevant to their journey.
So if we see, for example, a car manufacturing company who’s in-market and in the research phase, we might serve them a buyer’s guide. If they move into consideration phase, 6sense’s algorithm can detect that based on the level of research or the kind of research they’re doing. Terminus uses that data to automatically move the account into the next stage of the campaign, and then we can serve them content like a data sheet or a case study. If they’re in the purchase or decision stages, we might want to serve them a proof-of-concept or a free trial.
6sense updates the stage as their AI gets new signals, and Terminus moves them into the right campaign that I’ve already set-up. It all happens seamlessly with integrations into my Salesforce.
We are nurturing these accounts across their buyer’s journey just like you would do in traditional demand generation through marketing automation. But instead, we’re doing that through ads that are being served to all of the key stakeholders at our target accounts — even if we don’t have their contact data in our CRM.
I’m able to use 6sense data to better serve the right content for the right stage, and Terminus automates it and lets me get in front of the people that may not open their emails or take a call.
So that’s where I find that the seamless integration of Salesforce, 6sense, and Terminus gives us a lot of value. It’s marketing automation for ABM!
What are some of Panasas’ other account-based marketing use cases?
One is enabling our inside sales team with Terminus and 6sense.
The data from Terminus is synced with SFDC, so we see which accounts have engaged with Terminus ads, and that’s a signal to our inside sales team to prioritize them. When inside sales comes in to work, they open SFDC and see today’s target accounts and the engagement within those accounts. This prioritizes their outreach.
More specifically, the inside sales team will set up a small domino list with a filter like “Terminus clicks greater than ten and 6sense score greater than 60,” which signifies it’s a hot account. Then they’ll see which stage of the journey that account is in. They have a library built with the templates for each stage.
As a result, when an account is in the awareness stage, is hot, is in-market, and has engaged with Panasas via Terminus ads, it makes that salesperson outreach much warmer so the contact doesn’t think “Panasas who?” when we call them.
With a few clicks of their mouse, our salespeople can power through that list of accounts but in a personalized, engaging way that yields much better results than the typical outbound approach.
We combine this new approach with typical tracking, like seeing if someone opened an email or downloaded an attachment. The team can see that and then pick up the phone. This approach lets them utilize their time very effectively instead of calling and learning no one at the target account is really aware of Panasas. Our inside sales team knows that they will have a warmer toe in the door with all this background that we have set up for them. So that’s how we are enabling inside sales.
Do you run any other account-based marketing campaigns?
I set up always-on air-cover campaigns in Terminus for branding and awareness in each of our verticals. We also do quarterly goal campaigns in Terminus. For example, we’ll use Terminus advertisements when we have an upcoming event and we want to drive attendees to our booth or a contest we’re doing. Terminus is the best way to do both.
An interesting campaign that I’m doing right now is to do an A/B test between normal accounts in our SFDC and accounts that are “hot” according to 6sense. We’ve found that the clickthrough rates for hot accounts are 2-4x higher. I feel that that is a good validation that these people are in-market and they’re researching, so that’s why they’re engaging more with our content. It tells me that 6sense’s data is accurate!
What has most surprised you about the switch from lead-based to account-based marketing?
Let’s say we have used 6sense and our wish list to identify about 600 companies for each of our three focus verticals. Then through DiscoverOrg, Data.com, and LinkedIn Sales Navigator, we populate the ideal titles we’d like to reach in those verticals. Imagine getting two leads per account. That way, I get more lead volume than I would with traditional inbound.
I still value inbound, but when it comes to the overarching goal of finding accounts that fit our ICP, I say that I actually am generating more leads in volume than my Market Development Managers can handle.
To that point, being a small company, initially ABM started off with a big focus on content, like — oh, if Amazon comes to your website, this is the content you have to surface, and then you have to personalize it with ABM technology. But for me, programmatic ABM at the larger scale, which is modular, actually allows us to switch things out and deploy campaigns much faster with less bandwidth in terms of content needs.
Our biggest bottleneck is content needs. We cannot do one-to-one ABM, but that’s okay. The Terminus approach of almost modular programmatic ABM suits us just fine. That’s what has made it doable. I really like that part of it.
Also, I’m getting into customer retention and engagement. We are looking at existing clients that are in-market and figuring out how we should engage with them to find out if there’s an opportunity for cross-selling.
What advice do you have for B2B marketers who are getting started with account-based marketing?
Don’t just jump in blind. We take a hybrid approach to ABM. We have ABM and traditional lead-based marketing because we don’t want to put all our eggs in one basket. We’re moving more and more to ABM, but in a measured and tested way. We have totally tested, to our satisfaction, the whole ABM bandwagon, as it is, before getting onboard. We are seeing results and moving more and more dollars from Google AdWords and other tools into more targeted campaigns through Terminus.
I’m proud of what we’ve built with a limited budget. While we’ve spent a lot on predictive, it was worth the investment. With both Terminus and 6sense, we’ve had to rigorously prove the ROI of ABM to our board, and we’ve succeeded. Our marketing and sales teams are well aligned now, and the question of whether marketing delivers poor quality leads to sales never comes up anymore.
Finally, ensure you have buy-in from leadership. It’s important to communicate your results and roadblocks, and to test and measure every step of the way.
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